5 Factors To Determine The Appropriate Level Of Interactivity

Custom eLearning Solutions - 5 Factors To Determine The Appropriate Level Of Interactivity
Summary: Interactions increase learner engagement, retention, and application, but there are so many possibilities, how do you decide which interactions to use and when? These 5 factors will help you find the right level of interactivity for your learners to stay motivated and reach their development goals.

What Determines The Appropriate Level Of Interactivity

The difference is great. At one time or another, you’ve probably had to trudge through eLearning that was as riveting as moss growing on bricks. On the other hand, you may have been launched inside a full immersion module, with elaborate environments that look and feel like real life, where you maneuver by making decisions within sophisticated scenarios. Learning may even involve gamification, which allows learners to compete against other participants and tracks their progress with a leaderboard. So, what is the fundamental difference between passive eLearning and immersive eLearning? The difference is interactivity.

eBook Release: Providing An Amazing Custom eLearning Solution For Corporate Training
eBook Release
Providing An Amazing Custom eLearning Solution For Corporate Training
Inno-Versity offers a marvelous custom eLearning solution for corporate training and provides a complete guide for L&D professionals.

Like every aspect of custom eLearning, interactions are designed to increase learner engagement, retention, and application. Interactions occur when the learner responds to or directs the eLearning module. The most basic action is clicking the “next” button to advance the slide, but there are so many other possibilities: assessment questions of all sorts, click-to-learn hotspots, layers of videos, and reflection journals. The variety of interactions is so vast, we are forced to ask: how do we decide which interactions to use? How much is enough? Can a module have too many or the wrong kind of interactions?

A competent Instructional Designer follows a plan. One doesn’t just toss around interactions like a weekend gardener flinging grass seed in the yard. Every interaction should be thoughtfully placed in the right spot for a specific purpose. There’s science behind it with a method to the madness, and it all stems from the learning objectives, audience, and content.

Levels Of Interactivity

Before we jump into which level of interactivity is right for your custom eLearning, let’s review some key characteristics of 4 basic levels of learner interactivity, ranging from 'passive' to 'immersive':

1. Passive

  • Passive learning through reading and/or listening
  • Minimal learner control
  • Linear progression
  • Little or no assessment or practice
  • Stock photos and graphics

2. Moderate

  • Active learning with learner engagement
  • Basic learner control
  • Nonlinear with flexible navigation
  • Simple quizzes, practice, and feedback
  • Simple scenarios
  • May include custom photos and graphics

3. Complex

  • Active learning with high learner engagement
  • High learner control
  • Nonlinear and may include simple branching
  • Advanced practice with instructive feedback
  • Complex scenarios with decision-making
  • May include remedial instruction
  • Custom photos, graphics and/or animations

4. Immersive

  • Highly active learner
  • Highest learner control
  • Multiple paths and branching
  • Complex simulations and realistic work environments
  • Life-like scenarios with high-level decision-making
  • Remedial instruction
  • Custom video and animations
  • Possibly Virtual or Augmented Reality

So, how do you know which level of interactivity is most appropriate for your training solution? Let’s take a look at some factors that can help you decide:

Factor 1: How Much Risk Is Involved?

A fighter pilot will not engage in combat without first having logged many hours in successful flight simulations followed by non-combat practice maneuvers. Similarly, an explosives engineer doesn’t practice on live bombs until she has mastered disposing of them in Virtual Reality. These training programs demand level-4 interactions because of the danger involved. The element of risk is too high. But the personal danger is not the only kind of risk. Asking the finance team to learn a complex new data tracking system may be a critical step in the survival of your company, with no room for errors. In each of these cases, because of the high level of risk, custom level-4 eLearning is the only acceptable solution.

Factor 2: How Complex Is The Content?

We don’t expect students to learn to solve 3rd-year calculus problems by casually listening to a podcast. They need to see examples worked in front of them, practice solving problems themselves, and receive instructive feedback if they get stuck. For complex content, learner engagement is critical, requiring at least level-2 interactivity. The more complex the content, the more engagement is necessary. In addition, custom graphics and animations will be needed if your subject matter is detailed or unique to your company. If your content is complex but with only a moderate amount of risk, custom level-3 eLearning is the one you want.

Factor 3: Who Is Your Audience?

Remember to look at your learner profile when deciding on interactivity. For example, if your learners are mostly above 40 years old, they might be comfortable learning with less interactivity, while learners younger than 25 years old will likely expect more. High engagement keeps younger learners motivated to pay attention. You can’t go wrong with complex or even immersive interactivity with Generation X and beyond. Other audience considerations include the technical ability and current knowledge level or skill in the content. The kinds of interactions, as well as their frequency, need to fit the learners.

Factor 4: Do They Need To Master The Content?

Take another look at your learning objectives. What are your desired end results? If you only expect learners to be introduced or exposed to the topic, then Passive or Moderate Interactivity may be enough. However; when you want learners to knowledgeably respond to a complex scenario, make value decisions based on the content, or analyze conflicting hypotheses, you will need a high level of interactivity to get the job done. Mastering a topic requires significant practice in complex and immersion scenarios with high-level feedback as well as remediation. The extent to which your learners need to master the content dictates the level of interactivity required.

Factor 5: What Are The Project Constraints?

Unfortunately, sometimes the best choice of interactivity for the content is not feasible due to project constraints, such as development time, availability of Subject Matter Experts or budget. While not ideal, a reasonable compromise can often be made to create learning materials that will enable learners to reach your objectives while staying within project constraints. It is important to acknowledge constraints from the beginning, and sometimes, it is better to wait until a larger budget can be allocated rather than create a less-than-ideal program.

Higher engagement done well equals faster and deeper application of content. Although it is tempting, interactions should not be used just for their appeal. They should always be tied directly to learning objectives, or they may become distracting instead of an impetus for learning. Save the lower immersion levels for modules that introduce topics and put complex and immersive-level interactions to good use for content that must be immediately applied with a high level of success. Finding the right fit for your next custom eLearning takes a bit of analysis and planning, but the rewards of a successful program are worth it. Sometimes a mossy brick pathway is exactly the approach you want!

Are you an L&D professional looking forward to adopting great corporate training practices which employees will find more than useful? Download our eBook Providing An Amazing Custom eLearning Solution For Corporate Training to discover when companies should invest in custom eLearning, the factors to determine the appropriate level of interactivity needed, the stages of the custom eLearning development process, and much more...

For those who are looking to learn about determining the appropriate level of interactivity, the following webinar Developing Custom eLearning For Corporate Training is a great place to start or proceed with your knowledge journey.  This webinar will be led by experts who have managed some of the most significant eLearning projects in the world.

eBook Release: MindSpring
MindSpring is an award-winning agency focused on delivering engaging and transformative digital content. We create digital experiences using exceptional creativity, the best of learning science, and innovative technology. (Previously Inno-Versity)